Scosche’s boomSTREAM BT Speaker: Features & Compromises

| In-Depth Review

The Scosche boomSTREAM Bluetooth Wireless Media Speaker is an extremely convenient compromise between sound quality, portability and utility. The unit is tiny, measuring only 6.7-in long, 2.5-in. high and 2.13-inches deep, and it’s quite light to carry around. (Scosche doesn’t specify the weight.)

The Scosche boomSTREAM Media Speaker

What It Does:

With built in Bluetooth 2.1, you can stream any Bluetooth source directly to it, or for older devices such as most iPods, a supplied 3.5 mm cable can be used between it and the boomSTREAM. There is a built-in 1200 mAh lithium polymer rechargeable battery that Scosche reports can play for 6 to 8 hours depending upon volume, and I have no reason to doubt those numbers.

On the left side is a standard USB input, so the battery can charge your iPhone for awhile. I found that from a full charge my iPhone 4S depleted the battery in an hour and forty minutes while playing, so I guess it’s okay in a pinch. But don’t count on it to replace an iPhone battery case. Also, don’t count on it to do much for an iPad since its output is 2.5 Watts at 500 mA. (An iPad requires 10 watts.) As I expected, it can’t charge an iPad at all. It doesn’t come with a power supply, which is sold separately, but uses a supplied USB to mini-plug cable. This is one of my pet peeves. There has, to date, been no standard mini USB plug. I have a drawerful of cables that are only compatible with the thing it came with. Fortuitously, I found that the boomSTREAM uses the same cable as my Etymotic EtyBLU2 Headset, but that was just coincidence. 

The boomSTREAM Can Charge Your iPhone, for Awhile At Least

 

The boomSTREAM claims to be able to be used as a speakerphone, but in my  testing, the results were atrocious. Using the internal mic to send makes it sound like you’re underwater on the other side of the call and there are odd audio artifacts that also come with the signal. I used my iPhone 4S to test this and the voice coming out of the speakers was muffled and, to my ears, unacceptable. 

Charging the unit was pretty quick. Scosche says it takes three and a half hours to charge, but I it took just under an hour less than that for the charging light to turn from red to green. Two hours and forty minutes is a quite respectable charge time. 

 

How Does It Sound?

The bass is a bit better than I would have guessed using twin 40 mm drivers up front and a downward firing subwoofer, and the volume is surprisingly loud when cranked up. 

Such a small unit with such small speakers can’t really be expected to create terrific sound and the boomSTREAM does stream but it really doesn’t BOOM. The sound to my ears was bass heavy without much punch. I noted a constrained midrange and muddy highs that really don’t get too high. It’s rated at producing a dynamic range of 70 Hz - 20,000 Hz. I can’t confirm that. Using a suite of test tones, I will sign off of on a bottom of 70 Hz, but the highest I could discern was 10,000 Hz, or half its rating. 

Since there are two front firing speakers, it’s in stereo but you’d have to center the unit on your nose to hear any separation. At least I did. Actually, holding it up to my nose sounded better than putting it on a table. So the idea of using a downward firing subwoofer speaker really didn’t do much. Even putting it on the box it came in, to reverberate the bass, didn’t change the sound much.

To be fair, the sound was only a bit better than fair. With it’s diminutive size, I got what I expected. It wasn’t magical. If I had to use a few words to describe the sound, I’d have to say slightly muddy, slightly tinny and compressed with decent bass for the size.

An Unintended Use:

I found it very useful for something that I don’t think Scosche had in mind. I listen to a lot of podcasts and this is the perfect unit for that. Voices are produced extremely well with warm rich overtones and the ability to take it anywhere with ease, as well as the long battery life has made it my go-to device for podcast listening. I was using Bluetooth headphones for this, but I’ve put them away in favor of the boomSTREAM. To me, it’s more convenient than the headphones I’ve been using for voice. 

Do I Recommend It:

In the end, I can’t recommend it with much conviction. The boomSTREAM does have an impressive feature set, as long as you discount the speakerphone, but for anything more than the most casual music listening, I think you can do better for US$100 —  maybe not at this size though. If you do a lot of traveling and need something to toss in a bag, I can see it. But for general music listening, I’d say no. However, if you listen to lots of podcasts, the convenience of portability might be worth it to you. 

Product: The Scosche boomSTREAM Media Speaker

Company: Scosche

List Price: US$99.95

Pros:

Very small and light, charges an iPhone or iPod for awhile, internal battery charges quite quickly, loud for the size, 3.5 mm cable supplied for Bluetooth devices, decent bass for the size, great voice reproduction.

Cons:

Expensive, unspectacular music reproduction, useless speakerphone feature, another nonstandard USB mini cable, no power supply provided.

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